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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Hallowed Hunt, by Lois McMaster Bujold

In previous posts, I have written about Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls.

The Hallowed Hunt is set in the same universe, some time before the other two books, and with no overlap in characters, but with the same theology. That theology involves five gods, apparently joint deities, with no one ascendant over the others. A principal feature of this religion is that, at death, five animals, one representing each of the gods, are brought to the body of the dead person. Usually, one of the five makes some gesture indicating that that particular god has chosen to take the spirit of that dead person unto him or herself. (Two of the gods are female.) The religion seems to be Universalist, or nearly so -- almost everyone is, at the end, united with one of the gods.

Another feature of this religion is that there are a few saints. A saint is a person who has experienced one of the gods -- seen and talked with this being, in some spirit world, and returned to more or less normal life. Saints are created by the will of the gods -- they call some people to themselves before they die, then send them back.

The practitioners of this religion believe that no spirit being, even a god, can exist in the world of matter without some living being, human or animal, who acts with and for the god. They also believe in free will -- it is possible to reject a relationship with a god, or to not respond to a command from a god.

In The Hallowed Hunt (New York: Harper Collins, 2005) another aspect of the religion is revealed. That is that, when a human or an animal dies, it is possible for a shaman to receive the spirit of that human or animal into one's own, thus becoming a combination of two (or more) spirits).

I won't give away much of the plot. I will say that the previous paragraph is important in it, and point out that the consequences of uniting with too many spirits, animal or human, and obtaining too much power, are, in the end, negative. One character who has done this, and, by doing so, survived for centuries, wants nothing more than final oblivion. I will also say that the book includes a love story. The two main characters are married in the end.

Bujold is a good read. The theology she has invented for this book, and the other two she has written, which have the same setting, is well thought out, and interesting. It's clearly not Christianity, though. I'll stick with One Triune God. She has written other books, which do not share this theology. At least one of them seems to have a Christian character.

Thanks for reading.

In a series posted later, beginning here, I have written about Bujold's four Sharing Knife novels, also fantastic literature.

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